Last Wednesday 9 October, 550 delegates including 200 grassroots venue representatives from across the UK arrived at Islington Assembly Hall for a practical day of discussion, information, networking and celebration of the sector’s achievements.

The day began with a warm welcome from MVT patron KT Tunstall, explaining how she started out playing in venues in St Andrews, how working musicians create a culture important to the local community and explaining that musicians can’t do what they do unless they are heard.

Following this, fellow patron Steve Lamacq hosted a panel called ‘Tales from the Frontline’, interviewing a selection of inspirational venue representatives from The Green Door Store, The New Adelphi, Sneaky Pete’s, Le Public Space and Night & Day.

Here are some of our top takeaways:

  • One of the biggest changes of recent years is that more of the 40+ demographic are getting into new bands. Music Tourism is also growing and is a staple audience for The Green Door Store.
  • Paul Jackson from The New Adelphi remarks that the underground scene is what keeps grassroots venues going, sandwiched between the traditional and commercial scenes.
  • Running club nights is a good way to increase trade. The more events you put on, the more your audience will grow.
  • If the show isn’t selling, ask for feedback from the agent.
  • Getting tips from punters is key – Nick from Sneaky Pete’s says he gets a lot of DJ recommendations from regulars.
  • Having a number of venues in one area is a benefit not competition. The Green Door Store opened in Brighton when other venues were closing. Now it’s a bustling scene.
  • It’s important to build relationships with local people in the industry. The MVT alliance and network is very much needed, and in some venues a big proportion of the crowd is artists. They all support each other.

The panel was followed by an afternoon of talks and debates about key areas, plus one to one meetings between venue reps and booking agents, plus representatives from PRS for Music who were attending to explain the new reporting initiative Setlist.

Finally, we must give a huge congratulations to Paul Jackson of The New Adelphi Club in Hull for winning MVT’s Outstanding Achievement Award 2019.